EAST LANSING - On Saturday afternoon twenty-three Michigan State seniors will run out of the tunnel into Spartan Stadium for the final time to take on Penn State who the Spartans havent beaten since 2003.
This senior day will be unlike senior days in the past four years, this time the Spartans have an opportunity to insure a bowl bid for the first time since 2003 when these seniors were either still in High School or redshirting.
"It's going to be emotional", said senior defensive end Ervin Baldwin. "We just have to come out ready to play."
The 23 Spartans that will be honored on Saturday include all four captains Pete Clifford, Jehuu Caulcrick, Kaleb Thornhill, and Travis Key along with eleven other Michigan State starters.
This class has provided Spartan fans with some memorable moments over the past four years including the 49-14 upset of fourth ranked Wisconsin in Spartan Stadium in 2004.
This group is also a part of Michigan States record six straight wins in South Bend and the largest comeback in division one history last year at Northwestern as they erased a 38-3 second half deficit.
These players enters Saturdays game with a 20-26 record at Michigan State since 200 and has had to endure some tough times in the football program however Baldwin believes that this class along with first year coach Mark Dantonio is laying the foundation for something special at Michigan State.
"When we look back on this season we can say we helped turn this program around," Baldwin said. "We can comeback and say with Coach Dantonio and his staff we turned this thing around at MSU."
Inheriting so many seniors can be a double-edged sword for a first-year coach. Some have loyalties to the previous staff, some refuse to buy in, but that was not the case at Michigan State.
Dantonio found a group that was hungry to win and said they have really bought into him and his staff's system and beliefs which will help the program continue to grow.
"There's been no complaining [from the seniors]," said Dantonio. "From day one when we came here as a staff, we wanted certain things done and they've worked hard to get those things done."
If their Spartan teammates can honor these seniors with a win on Saturday it will ensure a bowl bid, some more tough practices and another game for this battle-tested group of seniors who deserve a reward for the tough times they've endured on the way to Saturday's finale at Spartans Stadium.
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